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Improve Literacy Newsletter

30 April 2009 - Issue 14

Hi there!

April has been National Poetry Month for the folks in the US, so we thought in this edition it would be a good idea to look at how reading poetry, can help with a child's education. We will also look at how you, as a parent, can use poetry as an additional tool to develop your child's reading and literacy skills.

In this issue:

1. Using poetry to help your child's reading development
2. Great children's poetry resources
3. Visit the new Improve Literacy blog, and Twitter and Facebook pages
4. The Improve Literacy website

1. Using poetry to help your child's reading development

Poetry is a medium that is full of humour, emotion, rhyme and rhythm, and these elements are what make it so engaging medium for young children. Because poems can conjur up such vivid images, they can transport children's imaginations to places that normal prose isn't able to. Here are a number of ways you can use poetry to help your child.

a) Read nursery rhymes

Nursery rhymes are a form of poetry. Young children respond well to the rhythms, rhymes and humour of nursery rhymes, so they can be considered a rich resource for language development. The musical nature of many nursery rhymes makes them easily memorable too. If you have a very young child, get hold of a book of nursery rhymes and read or sing them to her while looking at the illustrations together. Don't miss out on what could be a defining moment in your little one's education.

b) Write a poem with your child

This can be great fun, and an invaluable exercise as it gets your child to examine and explore words that rhyme and allows them to evaluate word choices. Keep it simple and don't be too rigid!

c) Buy a book of limericks

Limericks are great fun and are sure to have your little one giggling. It's also a fun means of getting a child familiar with structures like meter, rhyme, rhythm and sound. Ideal for kids aged from about 4-10, although it's true that everyone loves a good limerick!

d) Learn poems together and read them out loud

Your local library will have anthologies of children's poetry that you'll be able to take out on loan. You could even put on recital evenings when you invite friends around to join in with reading poems out loud.

e) Go to a kids poetry reading

These are great fun, and they often have animated or acted-out shows that allow the poems to come to life and capture the imagination of small children. Again ask at your local library for information about readings in your local area.

2. Great children's poetry resources

a) Poetry For Kids website -

An impressive resource of hundreds of children's poems, some well known, some less so. Also has poetry lessons, games and podcasts.

b) The children's poetry of Roald Dahl

This favourite children's author of The Twits and The BFG also wrote some good poetry that kids will love. Have a look at your local bookstore, library, or online at Poem Hunter, Poetry Archive and his own website.

c) Doggerel

Doggerel is defined as "a low, or trivial, form of verse, loosely constructed and often irregular, but effective because of its simple mnemonic rhyme and loping metre". The most famous proponent of doggerel is Edward Lear, who is best known for his poem The Owl and the Pussy Cat. Reading doggerel is great fun for kids of all ages.

d) 'How to write poetry' websites for kids

Both the Poetry Zone by Roger Stevens and are really useful websites that give tips to kids on the basics of writing poetry. Get your little one enthused by looking at these sites together, then let him loose writing a poem or two of his own!

3. Visit the new Improve Literacy blog, and Twitter and Facebook pages!

We recently launched our new Improve Literacy blog - the aim of the blog is to help parents and carers by giving useful hints, tips and information about improving child literacy, reading and reading comprehension skills. It will also help keep you up to date with all the latest literacy-related news. We’d love to hear what you think - leave a comment at any time!

You can now also follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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